The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension (1984)

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai across the 8th Dimension (1984)
  • Time: 103 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Comedy | Romance
  • Director: W.D. Richter
  • Cast: Peter Weller, John Lithgow, Jeff Goldblum, Ellen Barkin, Christopher Lloyd


Neurosurgeon/Rock Star/Superhero Buckaroo has perfected the oscillation overthruster, which allows him to travel through solid matter by using the eighth dimension. The Red Lectroids from Planet 10 are after this device for their own evil ends, and it’s up to Buckaroo and his band and crime-fighting team The Hong Kong Cavaliers to stop them.

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  • Boasting a wacky title and a wackier plot, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension was always tailored for cult success. Naturally, it bombed at the box office and left critics befuddled, but now has an army of loyal fans behind it. The main problem with the film is that it’s far too aware of his cult fate, constantly striving to be that more out-there with its kitschy sets, crazy outfits and zippy one-liners. It tells the story of Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller), a neurosurgeon, test pilot, physicist and lead singer of a rock band, who, while testing his new jet car, manages to cross into the 8th dimension with the help of a device called the ‘oscillation overthruster’.

    Upon learning of Banzai’s success, Dr. Emilio Lizardo (John Lithgow), who was at the helm of a failed experiment using the overthruster in 1938, breaks out of a home for the criminally insane. His experiment left him only half-way through the dimension, during which time an alien named Lord John Whorfin managed to take over his mind. Whorfin is the leader of the reptilian Red Lectroids, who were banished into the 8th dimension by the Black Lectroids, a friendlier alien race who sound like rastafarians. Banzai’s exploits alerts them all, and, with the help of the Hong Kong Cavaliers, his gang of ass-kicking musicians/scientists, and a girl who has caught his eye (Ellen Barkin), Banzai is caught up in a race against time to save the planet.

    This is quite clearly a movie not to be taken seriously. Lines such as “evil pure and simple by way of the eighth dimension!” are spoken with tongue poking out of cheek, and Lithgow’s knowingly ridiculous Italian accent gives Nicolas Cage a run for his money. While certainly fun, it tries to be too many things at once, be it a romance, sci-fi, an action movie, a comedy, a satire or a spoof, it doesn’t fully deliver in any of these areas. The heightened self-awareness can often leave you with the feeling that you’re being left out of the joke, with the faux-trailer during the closing credits – that may have happened had the film not bombed – reinforcing this idea. Fans will argue that I ‘don’t get it’, and I probably don’t, but I certainly enjoyed it’s camp aesthetic, amusing one-liners, and enormous cast of talented character actors.

    Rating: 3/5

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